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Special session ends with OK of incentive plan

MONTGOMERY (AP) — The Alabama Legislature wrapped up its special session Friday by approving a $400 million industrial incentive package designed to lure a German steel mill and other major industries to the state.

A 29-0 vote by the Senate completed work on the incentive package, which received a unanimous vote at each step in the special session.

"The unanimous votes send a strong message to the international business community that the state of Alabama is fully united in this economic development effort," Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom said.

The incentive package is a constitutional amendment that won't take effect unless approved by Alabama voters in a statewide referendum June 5. State officials predicted public support will match the legislative support.

"The economic growth plan is aboslutely essential if Alabama is going to continue competing for new jobs," Gov. Bob Riley said.

The House and Senate also voted unanimously Friday to give final approval to legislation creating two state trust funds to save money for the future health care costs of retired state employees and educators. Creating the trust funds will protect Alabama's bond rating and help get lower interest rates on the bonds the state will issue for the industrial incentive package.

The trust funds, like the incentive package, require voter approval on June 5.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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